Last month was women’s history month – a time to learn about the great accomplishments and contributions women have made to our nation, and to celebrate how far we’ve come. Yet, it often feels like we still have so far to go – especially in the way brands market to “the fairer sex.”
Apparently, women are intimidated by whisky.
For one, the “Jane Walker” branded whisky from Johnnie Walker that sought to widen the appeal of the product while celebrating women, actually created a huge backlash against the campaign. This was in large part because of a statement made by the company noting that, “Scotch as a category is seen as particularly intimidating by women.”
The campaign and statement got attention from the likes of Stephen Colbert, while prompting a range of reactions on social media and written satire, like the Washington Post article, Thanks to Jane Walker, ladies can finally drink scotch, that demonstrates just how misguided the basic premise of this campaign was.
Aren’t ‘Doritos for women’ just regular Doritos?
The recent “Lady Doritos”campaign shows another poor attempt to market to women with quieter, cleaner chips. But, people weren’t having it.
So many took to social media to voice their disdain for the campaign, that it was the second highest trending topic in the U.S.
After the swift backlash though, Doritos clarified that they will not be creating such a product. Adweek reported:
In response to a request for comment, a PepsiCo representative told Adweek that “the reporting on a specific Doritos product for female consumers is inaccurate,” despite Nooyi’s statement indicating otherwise.
“We already have Doritos for women—they’re called Doritos, and they’re enjoyed by millions of people every day,” the spokesperson added. “At the same time, we know needs and preferences continue to evolve, and we’re always looking for new ways to engage and delight our consumers.”
Advice to Brands
You’d have thought these brands would’ve learned something from the 2012 Bic campaign called “Bic for her,” or other failed attempts. But, as this Washington Post article notes, “companies haven’t moved away from the idea that it’s smart to pander to women by changing the look and feel of a product, rather than improving its essential function.”
The author goes on to say that, to fix this, businesses need to hire more women at every level. “If we want companies to make products women really want, women should be well-represented in creative and product decision-making — not only financial or management choices.”
While it’s great to have a woman at the top – and we rightly celebrate that, too, like the new Ketchum global CEO – there aren’t enough women throughout companies to help provide dissenting viewpoints and more effective discussions. And, when you consider that companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially (15 percent better, in fact!), this should be a much greater priority for businesses everywhere.
And, then, maybe… just maybe… we could better catch ideas like Jane Walker, Lady Doritos and Bic for Her before they hit consumers.
This article was first published on Muck Rack here.